Past Events (2000-2010)
Ed Koch and the Rebuilding of New York
December 7, 2010
Jonathan Soffer of NYU's Polytechnic Institute discusses his new book of the same title, and Ed Koch's life and legacy with Josh Freeman of The Graduate Center, Kim Phillipps-Fein of NYU, and Ronay Menschel, former Deputy Mayor and president of Phipps Housing.
From Slavery to Poverty
November 9, 2010
Gunja SenGupta, author of From Slavery to Poverty: The Racial origins of Welfare in New York, 1840-1918, of Brooklyn College sits down with others to examine the racially charged stereotype of the "welfare queen" and look back to its roots in language and institutions of poor relief and reform in the nineteenth century.
New York City and the Spanish-Speaking World, Part II: Cultural Connections
November 3, 2010
Mike Wallace moderates a panel exploring the impact on NYC over the last two centuries of cultural producers from the Spanish-speaking world. Panelists will discuss developments in Latin American literature (Carmen Boullosa, CCNY); film (Jim Fernandez, NYU); music (Juan Flores, NYU); Spanish literature (Regina Galasso, BMCC); and Spanish and Latin-American art (Edward Sullivan, NYU). Listen here.
Dangerous Game: New Yorkers at Play
October 26, 2010
NYC offers endless opportunity to look at one's neighbors, city, and self — and to be looked at in return. Where New Yorkers spend their leisure time are particularly fertile spaces, revealing how people of varying backgrounds came together for various activities, and drew the attention of reformers and police in the process. Join historians Jennifer Fronc (UMass, Amherst) with David Freeland and James Sanders for a panel examining the history of leisure in Manhattan, both legal and extra-legal.
Old Nueva York (1613-1945) and New Nueva York (1945-2010): Acorn and Tree?
October 13, 2010
Mike Wallace gives a brief illustrated overview of the exhibit, "Nueva York (1913-1945)," currently at El Museo Del Barrio, co-sponsored by the New-York Historical Society. The exhibit looks at the relationship between New York City and the Spanish-speaking world over more than three centuries. A conversation follows, moderated by Maria Hinojosaof PBS on the relationship between the pre-'45 and post-'45 periods. Panelists include Juan Gonzalez (Daily News), Lisandro Perez (John Jay College), Virginia Sanchez-Korrol (Brooklyn College), Robert Smith (Baruch College), and Silvio Torres-Salliant(Syracuse University).
Manhattan Projects: The Rise and Fall of Urban Renewal in Cold War New York
September 28, 2010
The United Nations. Stuyvesant Town. Lincoln Center. Join author of Manhattan ProjectsSamuel Zipp (Brown University) with Jennifer Hock (Middlebury College), Joshua Guild (Princeton) and Marshall Berman (The Graduate Center) as they discuss the assent of postwar Manhattan to a modern world city and its decline into crisis. "Urban renewal" was at the heart of this cultural and physical transformation.
The “Weaker Sex” Takes Gotham: Fighting For Women’s Right to Vote
May 11, 2010
In this visual presentation, Louise Bernikow will trace the places, characters and tactics involved in winning the vote in New York. The battle for female suffrage played out against the city landscape with more drama than anything mounted on the Broadway stage. Filling Fifth Avenue with marchers, Union Square with leaflets, Carnegie Hall with speakers, and the Statue of Liberty with demonstrators in small boats, suffragists left no corner of the city untouched. Across generations, geographies, and class, the tale features aristocrats like Alva (Vanderbilt) Belmont, world-famous actress Lillian Russell, feminist royalty Harriot Stanton Blatch, flamboyant stockbroker/presidential candidate Victoria Woodhull and labor organizer Rose Schneiderman, all allied with thousands of “anonymous” city residents, college students, immigrant garment workers, and working women. Listen here.
Sweatshop Cinderella (Film Premiere)
May 5, 2010
Please join Gotham Center director and historian Suzanne Wasserman for the premiere of this short documentary examining the life of Jewish immigrant writer Anzia Yezierska. Using archival film and still photography, footage from the 1922 silent filmHungry Hearts, letters, newspaper clippings and tape-recorded interviews, Sweatshop Cinderella tells the story of the prominent 20th century novelist.
David Ruggles: A Radical Black Abolitionist and the Underground Railroad in New York City
April 13, 2010
David Ruggles (1810-1849), one of the most heroic figures of the early abolitionist movement in America, has often been overlooked. But Graham Russell Gao Hodges of Colgate University has just provided the first biography of this African-American activist, writer, and publisher, who secured liberty for more than six hundred former bond people, the most famous of whom was Frederick Douglass. Hodges's portrait establishes the abolitionist as an essential link between disparate groups — male and female, black and white, clerical and secular, elite and rank-and-file — recasting the history of antebellum abolitionism as a more integrated and cohesive movement than is often portrayed.
Jacob’s Cane: A Jewish Family’s Journey from the Four Lands of Lithuania to the Ports of London and Baltimore: A Memoir in Five Generations
March 18, 2010
When Harvard English Professor Elisa New held her great-grandfather Jacob Levy’s cane in her hands for the first time in 1997, its elegant, finely crafted design led her to realize for the first time that her family’s story was not the standard coming-to-America tale she had long assumed. Inspired to search beyond what her parents and aunts had revealed of her family’s past, she would learn that Jacob Levy’s was indeed no Tevye the Milkman story. Rather, as her family memoir published by Basic Books explains, it was the untold odyssey of Tevye’s cosmopolitan cousin, one of a line of Jews rendered worldly by centuries of transoceanic commerce. In the mid-1880s, Levy had landed not at Ellis Island, but at Baltimore, where he skipped the struggling, tenement-living immigrant experience and hit the ground running, soon becoming a successful businessman and prominent socialist leader. Yet challenges to family cohesion and prosperity would still lie ahead.
The Row House Reborn: Architecture and Neighborhoods in New York City, 1908-1929
March 10, 2010
Architectural historian Andrew Dolkart of Columbia discusses his new book, which examines the rediscovery of New York's deteriorated row houses, built in the early 20th century. Tracing the radical alterations that have been made to these houses, he examines how these changes impacted urban neighborhoods. The facades of many row houses were completely redesigned, often with stucco fronts, colorful art tile detail, and artist-studio windows, while the utilitarian yards were conceived as picturesque gardens. Interior plans were often rearranged, creating a new type of urban residence. These houses appealed to artistic people near Gramercy Park, wealthy homeowners east of Third Avenue, and young, middle-class professionals renting apartments in faux-studios created by developers in Greenwich Village. The book argues for the importance of this movement and for the preservation of these endangered buildings.
Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places
Monday, February 22, 2010
As cities have gentrified, educated urbanites have come to prize what they regard as "authentic" urban life: aging buildings, art galleries, small boutiques, upscale food markets, neighborhood old-timers, funky ethnic restaurants, and old, family-owned shops. These signify a place's authenticity, in contrast to the bland standardization of the suburbs and exurbs. But, as Graduate Center sociologist Sharon Zukin shows in Naked City, the rapid and pervasive demand for authenticity — evident in escalating real estate prices, expensive stores, and closely monitored urban streetscapes — has helped drive out the very people who first lent a neighborhood its authentic aura: immigrants, the working class, and artists. Please join the author and panelists Samuel Zipp (Brown), Thomas Angotti (Hunter College), and Clara Irazábal (Columbia) as we examine how the idea of “authenticity” has become a central force in making cities more exclusive. Listen here.
Irish New York: A New Look at Tammany Hall and its Legacy
December 10, 2009
Tammany Hall has long been a synonym for corruption. But was there more than mere venality to one of the longest-running and most successful urban political organizations in the history of the United States? Did it also play a formative role in educating the masses in the constructive uses of politics and help turn the agenda of economic and social reform from wish list into law? Pete Hamill, Terry Golway, and Peter Quinn discuss with Richard Welch, author of King of the Bowery: Big Tim Sullivan, Tammany Hall, and New York City from the Gilded Age to the Progressive Era.
The Lower East Side Remembered and Revisited
December 2, 2009
Join panelists Joyce Mendelsohn, Clayton Patterson, Eric Ferrara, and Annie Polland for an examination of the Lower East Side, remembered and revisited. Mendelsohn’s book, The Lower East Side Remembered and Revisited, first published in 2001, has just been released in a revised and expanded edition, including a new section on the Bowery. Panelists will discuss the neighborhood’s venerable churches, synagogues and settlement houses as well as the breakneck changes that have taken place. Transformed from historic to hip — aged tenements sit next to luxury apartment towers, and boutiques, music clubs, trendy bars and upscale restaurants take over spaces once occupied by bargain shops, bodegas, and ethnic eateries.
Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City
November 17, 2009
Eric W. Sanderson, Associate Director for Landscape Ecology and Geographic Analysis in Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo, has reconstructed the stunningly beautiful natural world of Manhattan when the Dutch explorer Henry Hudson and his crew first laid eyes on it on September 12, 1609. By geographically matching an 18th-century map of Manhattan's landscape to the modern cityscape, combing through historical and archaeological records, and applying modern principles of ecology and computer modeling, Sanderson has re-created the forests of Times Square, the meadows of Harlem, and the wetlands of downtown. Filled with breathtaking illustrations that show what Manhattan looked like 400 years ago, Mannahatta is a groundbreaking work that gives readers not only a window into the past, but inspiration for green cities and wild places of the future.
Knickerbocker: The Myth Behind New York
October 26, 2009
Please join author Elizabeth L. Bradley, Deputy Director of the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, for a talk and signing of her new book. Diedrich Knickerbocker was created in 1809 by a young Washington Irving, who used the character to narrate his classic satire, A History of New York. Knickerbocker offers a surprising and delightful glimpse behind the scenes, inviting readers into the world of the anti-hero who surprised everyone by becoming the standard-bearer for the city's exceptional sense of self, or what we now call a New York "attitude."
New York Sings: 400 Years of the Empire State in Song
October 20, 2009
In honor of our quadricentennial year, folksinger and musicologist Jerry Silverman will present a lecture-concert drawn from his recently published book. From the Half Moon to the Clearwater, the Erie Canal to Lake Champlain, Montauk to Niagara Falls, the Sidewalks of New York to the Lumber Camps of the Adirondacks, Castle Garden and Ellis Island to Tin Pan Alley, the Polo Grounds and Yankee Stadium, New York Sings features 136 songs about the people, places and events reflecting life in New York through 400 years. The book features a downloadable recording of 25 songs.
Boulevard of Dreams: Heady Times, Heartbreak and Hope along the Grand Concourse in the Bronx
October 6, 2009
In Boulevard of Dreams (New York University Press), Constance Rosenblum, long-time editor of "The City Section" of The New York Times and currently author of the "Habitats" column in the paper's "Sunday Real Estate" section, details the colorful history of the Grand Concourse and the neighborhoods surrounding it. In this book, published to coincide with the boulevard's centennial this November, Rosenblum shines a brilliant spotlight on a unique section of the Bronx, a borough often overlooked by historians, and brings to life the history, personality, plights and triumphs of an iconic urban street. Listen here.
The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York
May 5, 2009
Join Matthew Goodman for a book talk and signing of The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists and Lunar Man-Bats in 19th Century New York. Goodman discusses the New York Sun’s 1835 “moon series” which became an overnight success and opens a window into a time when a new kind of newspaper was born.
A Moment in the Sun: Sneak-Peek Reading with John Sayles
April 15, 2009
Please join award-winning film maker, screenwriter, actor, and novelist John Sayles for a sneak preview reading of his forthcoming novel, tentatively entitled Some Time in the Sun. The historical novel is set between 1898-1901 during the last gasp of Reconstruction and the onset of American imperialism. It includes material set in the New York of that period — Hell’s Kitchen, Newspaper Row, the lower East Side, Brooklyn just after it was annexed, Barren Island, and Coney Island!
The Role of Public History in NYC’s Cultural Life
April 6, 2009
This forum will look at the role public history plays in the cultural life of New York City. Speakers include Ruth Sergel, filmmaker and artist, creator of CHALK — an annual commemoration of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire; Dave Herman, firefighter and founder of The City Reliquary; Ron Grele of Columbia University; Oneka LaBennett, anthropologist at Fordham University’s Bronx African American History Project; and Deborah F. Schwartz, President of the Brooklyn Historical Society.
The Story of 42nd St: The Theatres, Shows, Characters and Scandals of the World’s Most Notorious Street
March 30, 2009
This book, by Mary C. Henderson and Alexis Greene, documents the rise and fall of the street's historic theaters, and the street's comeback as an entertainment center. Confirmed panelists include Alexis Greene, author, Craig Morrison, theater architect and historian, Howard Kissel (The Daily News), Milly Baranger (UNC-Chapel Hill), Lynn Sagalyn (Columbia), Marshall Berman (The Graduate Center).
From The Triangle To The Tiger: New York's Garment Center in American Popular Culture, 1920-1970.
March 19, 2009
Warren Shaw will give an original, fifty-minute illustrated talk about the Garment District and popular culture. This discussion of the Garment Center will examine the years circa 1920s through the1970s and will cover plays, movies, novels, and books related to the famous neighborhood.
Gastropolis: Food and New York City
March 11, 2009
This new book, edited by CUNY professors Annie Hauck-Lawson and Jonathan Deutsch, explores the personal and historical relationship between New Yorkers and food. Beginning with the origins of cuisine combinations, such as Mt. Olympus bagels and Puerto Rican lasagna, the book describes the nature of food and drink before the arrival of Europeans in 1624 and offers a history of early farming practices. Essays trace the function of place and memory in Asian cuisine, the rise of Jewish food icons, the evolution of food enterprises in Harlem, the relationship between restaurant dining and identity, and the role of peddlers and markets. The essays share recollections of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, and colorful vignettes of the avant-garde chefs, entrepreneurs, and patrons who continue to influence the way New Yorkers eat. Essayists will read and discuss their contributions to the book. Listen here.
The Day Wall Street Exploded: A Story of America in its First Age of Terror
February 24, 2009
Just after noon on September 16, 1920, a horse-drawn cart packed with dynamite exploded on Wall Street. Thirty-nine people died and hundreds more lay wounded, making the Wall Street explosion the worst terrorist attack to that point in U.S. history. In The Day Wall Street Exploded, Yale University historian Beverly Gage tells the story of that once infamous but now largely forgotten event. The book delves into the lives of victims, suspects, and investigators: world banking power J.P. Morgan, Jr.; labor radical “Big Bill” Haywood; anarchist firebrands Emma Goldman and Luigi Galleani; “America’s Sherlock Holmes,” William J. Burns; even a young J. Edgar Hoover. It examines the rise of the Bureau of Investigation, the federal campaign against immigrant “terrorists,” the grassroots effort to define and protect civil liberties, and the establishment of anti-communism as the sine qua non of American politics. Listen here.
The Corner of 34th and Fifth
December 10, 2008
The second forum on 34th Street will focus on a geographical and historical look at one corner over time -- the corner of 34th and Fifth Avenue. This one corner can serve as a synecdoche for much of New York City’s elite history. It was home to farm land, two Astor Mansions, the A.T. Stewart mansion, the Waldorf and Astoria Hotels, B. Altman’s and the Empire State Building. 2008 marks the 75th anniversary of King Kong. This panel will focus on the experience of elites and examine the layers of change that reveal much about the history of power, real estate and tourism. Join panelists David M. Scobey (Bates College); Clifton Hood (Hobart and William Smith College) and author John Tauranac.
Forgotten Patriots: The Untold Story of American Prisoners During the Revolutionary War
December 2, 2008
Over 20,000-plus Americans were held by the British in New York during the Revolution, under conditions so atrocious that the mortality rate often reached 70 percent or more. Pulitzer-winning author Edwin G. Burrows (Brooklyn College) in his new bookraises questions about how this aspect of the war has been remembered, forgotten, and remembered again since the Revolution. Listen here.
The City's End: Two Centuries of Fantasies, Fears, and Premonitions of New York's Destruction
November 24, 2008
At each stage of New York’s development over the past century, visions of how the city would be demolished, blown up, swallowed by the sea, or toppled by monsters have proliferated in films and science fiction novels, photography, painting, graphic arts, television advertisements, postcards, cartoons, and computer software. In a projectbegun well before September 11, but given a new importance in its wake Max Page(UMass–Amherst) seeks to offer a critical historical perspective to our understanding of the recent disaster.
Italian-Americans, Hell’s Kitchen and Mario Puzo’s The Fortunate Pilgrim
October 29, 2008
This forum is the first in our series on the history of 34th Street. One of the cornerstones of Italian American literature and set between the Wars, on the westernmost edge of 34th Street in Hell’s Kitchen, scholars will examine Mario Puzo’s classic novel of the Italian-American experience, The Fortunate Pilgrim (1964). Panelists Robert Viscusi(Brooklyn College); Anthony Julian Tamburri (John D. Calandra Italian American Institute), and Fred Gardaphé (Queens College) will discuss issues of ethnicity, class, assimilation as well as resistance to it. Award-winning actor John Turturro, who starred in the 1988 mini-series, is scheduled to appear.
Trying Leviathan: The Nineteenth-Century New York Case That Put the Whale on Trial and Challenged the Order of Nature
October 7, 2008
D. Graham Burnett recovers the strange story of Maurice v. Judd, an 1818 trial that pitted the new sciences of taxonomy against the then-popular and biblically sanctioned view that the whale was a fish. The trial fueled a sensational public debate in which nothing less than the order of nature, and how we know it, was at stake. Falling in the middle of the century between Linnaeus and Darwin, the trial dramatized a revolutionary period that saw radical transformations in the understanding of the natural world. Recipient of the New York Society Library’s 2007 New York City Book Award. Listen here.
Rediscovering Jacob Riis: Exposure Journalism and Photography in Turn-of-the-Century New York
May 13, 2008
Bonnie Yochelson, curator and author of Berenice Abbott: Changing New York, and Daniel Czitrom, Professor of History at Mount Holyoke College, offer a fresh look at the Progressive Era social reformer, journalist, and pioneer photographer who publicized the conditions of the desperately poor in turn-of-the-century New York. A deeply contradictory figure, Riis was a conservative activist and skillful entertainer, an ingenious publicist driven by moral passion, and a revolutionary photographer whose relationship to the camera was diffident at best. Listen here.
From Rags to Riches: An Evening of Stories from Garment Industry Manufacturers
April 9, 2008
Join historians Richard Greenwald and Suzanne Wasserman as they interview veterans of the garment industry. This evening will focus on the Jewish manufacturers who worked and still work in every aspect of the industry, starting in 1945 from manufacturing custom-made doormen uniforms to marketing the first pair of women’s blue jeans. Please join our special guests including: Stuart and Jennifer Busch, Owners, I. Buss and Allan Uniforms; Gloria Gelfand, President, Gelfand Marketing Solutions; Richard Schwartz, ex-Chairman, NYSCA; Sarah Crean, Former Director, Garment Industry Development Corporation; and others.
Gotham History Blotter Reading and Book Signing
March 26, 2008
The Gotham Center recently introduced a new feature, The Gotham History Blotter, inviting writers, historians, essayists, and others to contribute short non-fiction essays about NYC history. Our goal is for readers to learn something new about the city and its past. Recent submissions have addressed everything from changes in Harlem to an infamous nineteenth century murder trial. Please join a discussion with several contributors, including Morton Zachter, author of the award-winning Dough: A Memoir, Harold Schechter, author of The Devil’s Gentleman: Privilege, Poison and the Trial that Ushered in the Twentieth Century, and Benjamin Feldman, author of Butchery on Bond Street: Sexual Politics and the Burdell-Cunningham Case in Antebellum New York.
City of Water: A Short Documentary about the Future of New York’s Waterfront
March 3, 2008
Join us for a screening and panel about the future of New York City's waterfront. This short film features interviews with public officials, environmentalists, academics, community activists, recreational boaters, and everyday New Yorkers. They discuss the diverse, vibrant waterfront at a time when the shoreline is changing faster than at any other time in New York's history. Interviewees include Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff, US Representative Nydia Velazquez, MacArthur Fellow Majora Carter, Sandy Hook Pilots Captain Andrew McGovern, and many others. The panel, following the screening, will feature William Kornblum, Professor of Sociology, the CUNY Graduate Center, Roland Lewis, President, Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, Kent Barwick, President, Municipal Art Society, and others.
The Lights of Old Broadway: Theater in the Interwar Years
February 26, 2008
Richard Davidson moderates a panel discussion on theater in New York City between the wars with Jackson Bryer, Claudia Wilsch Case, and Harriett Alonso. Listen here.
Students for a Democratic Society: A Graphic History
December 10, 2007
The SDS Comic Show, a traveling exhibit drawing upon the book Students for a Democratic Society: a Graphic History, will be open at the CUNY Graduate Center in December. Come see the exhibit and join us for a book signing and panel discussion for Students for a Democratic Society: a Graphic History, scripted by Harvey Pekar and others and edited by Paul Buhle, editor of the 1960s SDS magazine Radical America. Harvey Pekar, real-life star of the award-winning film and the book series American Splendor (and sometime Letterman Show guest), will deliver a talk on comics and politics, followed by a panel including Buhle, former SDS-NY regional officer, Weatherman Jeff Jones, and members of the New SDS.
Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? 75th Anniversary Celebration
November 26, 2007
“Brother Can You Spare a Dime,” the “Anthem of the Great Depression”, was written in New York City in 1932 and remains a timeless song of protest for millions around the world. With music by Jay Gorney and words by Yip Harburg (CCNY class of ’17), the great American lyricist known as “Broadway’s social conscience,” the song’s title came from New Yorkers suddenly jobless — part of the unemployed “one third of the nation” — forced to stand on street corners and ask passersby for change to buy food. The Yip Harburg Foundation will present a multi-media event, “’Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?’: New York City Songs for Social Justice,” featuring remarks by Yip Harburghimself (on video), period footage, songs of the ‘30s, and the participation of Harburg’s son and grandson, as well as special guest singers and songwriters.
New York Calling: From Blackout to Bloomberg
November 6, 2007
Acclaimed historian Marshall Berman and journalist Brian Berger gather a stellar group of contributors from the forthcoming New York Calling (University of Chicago Press), including John Strausbaugh and Joe Anastasio. New York City in the 1970s was the setting for Taxi Driver, Annie Hall, and Saturday Night Fever; the nightmare playground for Son of Sam; and the proving grounds for graffiti, punk, and hip-hop. Musicians, artists, and writers were reinventing the city in their own image. Others, fed up with crime, filth, and frustration, simply split. Fast-forward three decades. Is this fresh-scrubbed, affluent city really an improvement on its grittier predecessor? New York Calling reminds us of what has changed –– and what’s been lost –– along the way.
White, Ethnic New York: Jews, Catholics and the Shaping of Postwar Politics
October 25, 2007
Joshua Zeitz (Pembroke, Cambridge University) will talk about his new book, White, Ethnic New York: Jews, Catholics and the Shaping of Postwar Politics. Historians of postwar America often identify race as the driving force behind the dynamically shifting political culture. Zeitz instead places ethnicity at the forefront, arguing that ideological conflict among Irish Catholics, Italian Catholics, and Jews in New York City had an important impact on the shape of liberal politics.
Building Capitol: The Vernacular Architecture of the Garment District
October 9, 2007
The Garment District is one of the most famous neighborhoods of New York City. This is an area well known to labor historians, but virtually unknown to historians of the city's built environment. Andrew Dolkart, the James Marston Fitch Associate Professor of Historic Preservation at Columbia University's School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and author of the award-winning Morningside Heights: A History of its Architecture and Development, will give an illustrated lecture on the vernacular architecture of the Garment District, examining the forces that resulted in the extraordinary rapidity of development of showrooms, factories, and lofts.
Word and Deed: John Bowne and the Flushing Remonstrance
September 24, 2007
In 1657, 350 years ago, the citizens of Flushing, Queens wrote to Peter Stuyvesant protesting a decree prohibiting Quakers from worshipping in the Dutch colony of New Netherland. Known as the Flushing Remonstrance, Stuyvesant was unmoved. Seven years later, John Bowne’s forceful argument for religious tolerance prompted the Dutch West India Company to order Stuyvesant to allow all colonists, regardless of faith, to worship freely. This forum examines the struggle of colonists to win religious tolerance in New Netherland. Legal scholars believe that the Flushing Remonstrance influenced the principles codified in 1791 in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Panel Participants: Donald R. Friary, Historic Deerfield, Inc; Evan Haefeli, Columbia University; Daniel J. Hulsebosch, New York University, and Carla Gardina Pestana, Miami University, Ohio.
Taxi! A Social History of the New York City Cabdriver
September 17, 2007
2007 marks the 100th anniversary of the first gas-powered, taxi-metered cabs; today more than 12,000 licensed yellow cabs operate in Manhattan alone. Graham Russell Gao Hodges, a former New York cabdriver and Professor of History at Colgate University, will show film clips and speak about his recent book. Taxi! is the first book-length history of New York City cabdrivers and the community they compose. Hodges tells the tale through contemporary news accounts, Hollywood films, social science research, and the words of the cabbies themselves.
Does New York's Past Have a Future? A Report on the Preservation Movement's History; Some Prescriptions for its Next Century
May 14, 2007
It has been over four decades since Penn Station was trashed and turned into Jersey landfill and the Landmarks Preservation Commission was created in its wake. We are now in the midst of an enormous development juggernaut, and some think that historic preservation might wind up as road kill. Join some of the movement's leading activists and analysts for a discussion about the past, present, and future of preservation in New York City. Panelists include Anthony C. Wood, New York Preservation Archive Project; author Tony M. Tung; author Tom Wolfe; William Higgins, Principal, Higgins Quasebarth & Partners, LLC; and Julia Vitullo-Martin, Director, Center for Rethinking Development, Manhattan Institute.
Weather Report: What's Next for New York, Climatologically Speaking? Will We Be Drowned, Fried, or Frozen?
April 24, 2007
How has climate change affected NYC? What will be the likely impact of coming environmental shifts? How much control can we have over our fate? Four local scientists ponder the weather report: George Hendrey and Stephen Pekar, with the Queens College School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, William Solecki, Interim Director of the CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities, and John Waldman, a biologist at Queens College.
Culture and Politics in a Time of War
March 24, 2007
A panel discussion inaugurating the exhibition Facing Fascism: New York and the Spanish Civil War, at the Museum of the City of New York. Co-sponsored by MCNY, NYU's School of Continuing and Professional Studies and King Juan Carlos Center, and the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives. New Yorkers serving in the Spanish Civil War were part of a ferment that aligned many countries between the Depression and WWII. This panel explores the richness of the cultural forces in New York that helped mobilize the antifascist opposition, looking at how political discourse and affiliations were filtered through the lens of various ethnic cultures, and considering the parallels between this vibrant period and our "time of war." Speakers: Pultizer-winning author Mike Wallace, Peter N. Carroll, chair of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, Peter Glazer, award-winning director of Heart of Spain: A Musical of the Spanish Civil War, and Rob Snyder, author of The Voice of the City: Vaudeville and Popular Culture in New York.
The Suburbanization of New York: Is the World's Greatest City Becoming Just Another Town?
March 13, 2007
The forces of suburbanization are sprawling and malling their way into town. Will they tame the raucous metropolis? Or make of it just another outlet for Disneyfied culture, big box commerce, and franchise food? Or is something new busy being born at the contested urban-suburban frontier? A book by some of the city's smartest, and wittiest, analysts and activists tackles these questions, and seven contributors will be on hand to present and discuss their — and your — assessments: Marshall Berman, Eric Darton, Francis Morrone, Matthew Schuerman, Neil Smith, Michael Sorkin, and Suzanne Wasserman.
On the Take: Labor Union Corruption in New York City, Past, Present, Future
February 26, 2007
Recent scandals are the jumping off point for this forum, in which the new head of the city's Central Labor Council and distinguished scholars ask: How pervasive has labor corruption been in New York City? What has caused it? How does it compare to (or connect with) corruption in business and politics? What has been its impact on Gotham's economy and polity? What to do about it? An important and provocative evening with Ed Ott, Executive Director, New York City Central Labor Council, AFL/CIO; Mike Merrill, Dean, Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies, Empire State College; Robert Fitch, author, Solidarity for Sale; and James Jacobs, Professor of Law and Director, Center for Research in Crime and Justice, New York University School of Law, author, Mobsters, Unions, and Feds: The Mafia and the American Labor Movement.
Confessions of a Municipal Bond Salesman
February 6, 2007
Jim Lebenthal is not just your everyday Wall Street banker. Before taking over his family bond business from his mother, the family matriarch who founded Lebenthal & Company, he was a showman, adman, Walt Disney film maker, Academy Award-nominee and a reporter covering the movies in Hollywood forLife Magazine. Part professional guide, part memoir, Confessions of a Municipal Bond Salesman looks back to recount his successes and setbacks as Lebenthal worked to build the family business into one of the best known municipal bond firms in America.
Robert Moses and the Modern City: Remaking the Metropolis
February 1, 2007
Today a number of theorists are urging a new, more assertive brand of urbanism. But is it possible to build big in New York City in the 21st century? Is it necessary to plan big? Forty years after the reign of Robert Moses, key city players consider these questions and set out their vision for the future. Hon. Daniel Doctoroff, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding, will give the keynote address, followed by a panel discussion including Majora Carter, Executive Director of Sustainable South Bronx; Anthony Coscia, Chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; John Sexton, President of New York University; and others. The symposium will be followed by a reception at the Museum of the City of New York.
Scenes from the City: Film-making in New York, 1966-2006
December 5, 2006
New York in the last four decades has provided some of the most iconic moments in film history. Beginning with Breakfast at Tiffany's and Sixties cinema verite, James Sanders will survey the body of work produced here, exploring in particular the emergence here of a street-style school of film-making that includes directors as diverse as Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee. He will also sign copies of his new book, Scenes from the City: Filmmaking in NY 1966-2006. James Sanders, an architect, co‑wrote the Emmy Award-winning PBS series New York: A Documentary Film and its companion volume, New York: An Illustrated History as well as Celluloid Skyline: New York and the Movies. Sanders will be introduced by Commissioner Katherine Oliver of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting.
Uncovering A Hidden History: The Spanish-Speaking Literary Tradition in Nueva York
November 30, 2006
A diverse array of Spanish-speaking novelists and poets have lived in or visited New York, and written about the city, but only a very few of them are widely known. Some of today’s leading Spanish-speaking novelists and poets, who are now living in and writing about New York, will pay homage to their forerunners — Julia de Burgos, Octavio Paz, and Carlos Pellicer among others — by recalling their experiences here and reading brief excerpts from their works. By way of contrast, they will also read some passages from their own contemporary takes on the city. This evening will be in Spanish and in English. Authors include Carmen Boullosa, Mexican novelist, poet, and playwright; Eduardo Lago, Spanish novelist and Director of the Instituto Cervantes of New York; Eduardo Mitre, Bolivian poet and Associate Professor, Department of Languages and Literature, St John's University; Jose Manuel Prieto, Cuban novelist and Director of the Joseph A. Unanue Latino Institute at Seton Hall University; and Sylvia Molloy, Argentinian writer, novelist, and literary critic, and Professor of the Humanities, NYU. The panel will be moderated by Naief Yehya, the Mexican novelist, journalist and essayist.
Life on the Lower East Side: The Photographs of Rebecca Lepkoff, 1937-1950
November 14, 2006
Suzanne Wasserman and Peter Dans talk about their new book, Life on the Lower East Side: The Photographs of Rebecca Lepkoff, 1937-1950 (Princeton Architectural Press). In 1945, Lepkoff joined the Photo League, created in 1936 in New York City. The League believed that photographers should record the communities in which they lived. Open to amateurs and professionals alike, league members included Helen Levitt, Rudy Burckhardt, Walter Rosenblum, Morris Engel, Arthur Leipzig, and Aaron Siskind. 2006 marks the 70th anniversary of the League.
Gotham's Newest Newcomers: The Impact of Post-1965 Immigrants on NYC – And Vice Versa
October 25, 2006
We are in the middle of one of Gotham's greatest immigration waves, triggered by the 1965 immigration law. Tonight's panelists analyze how the newcomers have experienced, and transformed, the city. Experts with a general and comparative focus — Nancy Foner (Hunter), John Mollenkopf (The Graduate Center), and Joseph Salvo (New York City Department of Planning) — will provide overview perspectives. Specialists on particular immigrant populations — Vilna Bashi on West Indians, Ramona Hernandez on Domincans, Madhulika Khandelwal on South Asians, Peter Kwong on Chinese, and Robert Smith on Mexicans — will discuss their group's unique experience. Finally, an interactive conversation between all the participants will be moderated by Maria Hinojosa, Anchor, Latino USA on NPR and Senior Correspondent, NOW on PBS.
Jane Jacobs vs. Robert Moses: How Stands the Debate Today?
October 11, 2006
Jane Jacobs’s death in 2006 triggered many questions about her legacy in New York — perhaps most importantly, whose urban vision dominates today — hers, or that of her arch opponent, Robert Moses? Our panel of historians, architects, planners, politicians, community activists, and developers will explore this question: Hilary Ballon (Columbia); Amanda Burden, Chair of the NYC Planning Commission and Director of City Planning; Richard Kahan, President and Founder of the Urban Assembly, and former President, New York State Urban Development Corporation; Brad Lander, Director of PICCED, and Visiting Assistant at Pratt Institute; Nicolai Ouroussoff, architectural critic at the New York Times; Michael Sorkin, director of the Graduate Urban Design Program at City College; and Samuel Zipp (UCal-Irvine).
The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell
October 4, 2006
Before New York City was the Big Apple, it could have been called the Big Oyster. Now award-winning author Mark Kurlansky tells the remarkable story of New York by following the trajectory of one of its most fascinating inhabitants — the oyster, whose influence on the great metropolis remains unparalleled.
Sacco and Vanzetti: A Film Screening
September 26, 2006
The story of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti — Italian immigrants and anarchists accused of murder in 1920 and executed after a notoriously prejudiced trial — is a New York story almost as much than anything else. The case came to symbolize the bigotry and intolerance directed at all immigrants and dissenters in America, and millions protested around the world, but nowhere as much as in New York. This film uses interviews, music, poetry, and interweaves readings of Sacco and Vanzetti's powerful prison writings read by John Turturro and Tony Shalhoub. Join the director, Peter Miller, and Mary Anne Trasciatti of Hostra University for a Q&A.
Familiar Haunts: Reel New York Film Screenings
June 22, 2006
Join us for a special sneak preview of Thirteen's annual independent film and video festival. Now in its 11th season, REEL NEW YORK continues to explore the many facets of NYC and the NYC experience through the lens of local makers. As varied and compelling as the city itself, this year's line-up include narratives about urban gardens, street art, subway stations, elevators, and the nostalgia of lost luncheonettes and roller coasters. Tune-in Thursdays, beginning June 29th through August 24th. Tonight we will screen a series called "Familiar Haunts," including the following: Ghosts of Grey Gardens (Director: Liliana Greenfield-Sanders); Under the Roller Coaster (Director: Lila Place); and Grand Luncheonette (Director: Peter Sillen).
Does Place Matter on the Lower East Side?
June 15, 2006
Always in a class by itself, today's Lower East Side is beginning to look just like any other place - on the surface at least. Join four scholars of the LES as they dig deep into the neighborhood's history. Does the LES have a special makeup that New Yorkers should protect? Its fascinating places may hold some clues. Our panel will discuss: Harriet Cohen, LES housing activist and Former Policy Analyst for Housing and Homeless for the Manhattan Borough President's Office; Orlando Plaza, community activist and doctoral candidate at NYU; John Kuo Wei Tchen, historian and Director of the Asian/Pacific/American Studies Program at NYU; and Suzanne Wasserman, Associate Director of the Gotham Center.
Gotham Poetry and History
May 4, 2006
The kick-off for the People's Poetry Gathering, which will take place at CUNY over the following weekend. This forum will highlight some of the relationships between the work of New York City-based poets who expressed a personal and collective vision of the City, the period they wrote about, and the social history unfolding at the time, featuring poets reading poems from different eras in New York and scholars commenting on the poetry. Scholars and poets include Bob Holman, Philip Lopate, Carmen Boullosa,Elisa New, Al Filreis, and David Levering Lewis. Watch here.
The New York Fiscal Crisis and Its Legacies
April 19, 2006
A panel discussion focusing on new perspectives on the Fiscal Crisis. Speakers: Julian Brash, "Invoking Fiscal Crisis: Its Uses and Misuses in Contemporary New York City Politics" (Ph.D. Dissertation, Anthropology, The Graduate Center); Miriam Greenberg, "Fiscal Crisis, Image Crisis, and the Branding of Neo-liberal New York in the 1970's and Today" (Media and Urban Studies, Pratt Institute); Michael Spear, "An Obstacle to the Development of an Urban Progressive Political Agenda? The New York City Municipal Unions and the 1970s Fiscal Crisis" (Visiting Assistant Professor, SUNY, Oswego); David Harvey, "Situating the New York City Fiscal Crisis in the History of Neoliberalism" (Anthropology, The Graduate Center).
On the Town: One Hundred Years of Spectacle in Times Square
April 3, 2006
A unique look at the ideas and works of art that inspired, or were inspired by, Times Square. Interleafing his own recollections with astute social commentary, Marshall Berman reveals how movies, graphic arts, literature, popular music, television, and of course, the Broadway theater have reflected Times Square's voluminous light to illuminate a vast spectrum of themes and vignettes. Berman is Distinguished Professor of Political Science at City College of New York, and the author of The Politics of Authenticity: Radical Individualism and the Emergence of Modern Society and All That Is Sold Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity.
Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires
March 14, 2006
The Mafia. Cosa Nostra. Wise Guys. Goodfellas. Often romanticized, the Mafia families are one of the most powerful-and ruthless-organizations in the world. Names like Luciano, Bonanno, Gambino, Genovese, Lucchese, Gotti, and others are legendary, as are their crimes, and their secrets are deep, spanning over a century on two continents. Selwyn Raab has covered the Mafia for nearly forty years for The New York Times and other newspapers and TV. He is an expert on the inner workings of the vast criminal empire that is Cosa Nostra.
The Subway on Film
March 8, 2006
An evening of short films about the transit system, including One Track Mind (2005, Jeremy Workman); Daybreak Express (1953, D.A. Pennebaker); Brooklyn: Among the Ruins (2005, Suzanne Wasserman);Wonder Ring (1955, Stan Brakhage); and Gnir Rednow (1955, Joseph Cornell). Q & A to follow with Wasserman and Workman, and the subjects of their films, Phil Copp and Paul Kronenberg.
The Bobbed Haired Bandit: A True Story of Crime and Celebrity in 1920s New York
February 27, 2006
Ripped straight from the headlines of the Jazz Age, this new book is a tale of flappers and fast cars, of sex and morality. In the spring of 1924, a poor, 19-year-old laundress from Brooklyn robbed a string of New York grocery stores with a "baby automatic," a fur coat, and a fashionable bobbed hairdo. Celia Cooney's crimes made national news. The Bobbed Haired Bandit brings to life a world of great wealth and poverty, of Prohibition and class conflict. With her husband Ed at her side, Celia raised herself from a life of drudgery to become a celebrity in her own pulp-fiction novel, a role she consciously cultivated. She also launched the largest manhunt in NYC's history.
The War at Home over the War Abroad
February 1, 2006
Lecture by Mike Wallace, The Gotham Center's Director, on the battles in New York between Germans and Jews, blacks and Italians, Catholics and Protestants, Communists and liberals, Wall Streeters and New Dealers in the decade before Pearl Harbor.
The Chinatown Trunk Mystery: Murder, Miscegenation and Other Dangerous Encounters in Turn-of-the-Century New York City
December 15, 2005
In the summer of 1909, the gruesome murder of nineteen-year-old Elsie Sigel sent shock waves through New York City and the nation at large. The young woman's strangled corpse was discovered inside a trunk in the midtown Manhattan apartment of her reputed former Sunday school student and lover, a Chinese man named Leon Ling. In this new book, Yale's Mary Ting Yi Lui offers a fascinating snapshot of social and sexual relations between Chinese and non-Chinese populations in turn-of-the-century New York through the lens of this unsolved murder.
Revisiting the South Bronx Origins of Hip Hop
November 14, 2005
This forum will look at the social spaces and cultural traditions that created the context for South Bronx hip hop and examine whether existing narratives in film, music, and academic literature accurately describe what happened. A musical demonstration will accompany the talk! Panelists include Kelli Terry-Sepulveda, Executive Director of the Point Community Development Corporation, and Mark Naison, Fordham University Professor and Director of the Bronx African-American History Project.
The Encyclopedia of New York State
October 19, 2005
Peter Eisenstadt, Laurence M. Hauptman, and Tod M. Ottman discuss the first comprehensive encyclopedia on New York ever published: almost 2,000 pages, with 4,600 entries by over 1,200 authors. Tonight's panel will consider some of the challenges faced by the editors in creating the Encyclopedia, and the complexities involved in viewing the city in a statewide context.
Paintings of New York: 1800-1950
October 5, 2005
An illustrated lecture and book signing for the recent publication of the same title.Bruce Weber, Director of Research and Exhibitions, Berry-Hill Galleries, will trace the development of artistic interest in depicting NYC between 1800 and 1950, touching upon the changing tone and fabric of the city, and the major artistic themes and aesthetic motivations that led artists to picture New York in this period. Among the artists discussed will be Winslow Homer, James H. Cafferty, Asher B. Durand, Henry Inman, Ferdinand Lungren, Childe Hassam, Ernest Lawson, John Sloan, George Bellows, Edward Hopper, Isabel Bishop, and Reginald Marsh.
New Takes on Rudy Giuliani
September 21, 2005
Join us as Robert Polner and Fred Siegel discuss their new books on the mayor and his legacy. Polner is the author of America's Mayor: The Hidden History of Rudy Giuliani's New York, with contributions by Jimmy Breslin, Jim Dwyer, Luc Sante, and Kevin Baker. Fred Siegel is the author ofThe Prince of the City: Giuliani, New York, and the Genius of American Life.
100th Anniversary of Wobblies!
September 13, 2005
The hundredth anniversary of the Industrial Workers of the World will be celebrated by artists, historians, musicians, and today's Wobbly activists. Union singer John Pietaro will belt out old Wobbly favorites; Daniel Gross of the Starbucks Workers Union will talk about the latest Wobbly successes; Henry Foner and Paul Buhle will speak about the Wobblies in labor history; and artists from WOBBLIES! A Graphic History — Nicole Schulman, Peter Kuper, Seth Tobocman, and Sabrina Jones — will show slides from their ground-breaking work on the Wobbly saga.
Slumming It: Myth and Culture on the Bowery: A Film Screening
June 21, 2005
This new film traces the rich, 200-year history of the Bowery, examining the myriad ways in which the street and its denizens were instrumental in the city's evolution as an archetypal modern-day metropolis. Featuring interviews with historians and present-day residents, as well as archival images and motion pictures, the documentary juxtaposes today's Bowery with the characters, locations, and stories that, more than a century ago, formed the extraordinary fabric of this influential and infamous boulevard. Discussion follows with director Scott Elliott and historian Daniel Czitrom, Mount Holyoke College.
New York Stories: The Best of the City Section of the New York Times
June 16, 2005
The forty essays collected in this new book reflect an intimate understanding of the city, one that goes beyond the headlines. The result is a passionate, well-written portrait of a legendary and ever-evolving place. Featuring writers Patricia Volk, Ed Morales, and Jim Dwyer, New York Stories profiles people like sixteen-year-old Barbara Ott, who surfs the waters off Rockaway in Queens, and Sonny Payne, the beloved panhandler of the F train. Other essays explore memorable places in the city, from the Greenwich Village townhouse blown up by radical activists in the 1970s to a basketball court that serves as the heart of its Downtown neighborhood.
New York in the 1970's: The Pre-Gentrification Years
May 18, 2005
This panel discussion with the iconic personalities and chroniclers of the era. There will be a screening of Phil Hartman's "No Picnic," a 1987 drama of the Lower East Side, and readings from Mark Jacobson's Teenage Hipster in the Modern World. Panelists include Michael Daly, Daily News columnist; Legs McNeil and John Holstrom, founders Punk Magazine; Gillian McCain, co-author, Please Kill Me, an oral history of punk rock; Fab 5 Freddy, graffiti artist, deejay, and producer of Wild Style, New Jack City; Phil Hartman, and Mark Jacobson.
The Reluctant Spiritualist: A Life of Maggie Fox
April 26, 2005
Nancy Rubin Stuart tells the riveting story of a beautiful Victorian teenager caught in a web of greed and deception. Maggie Fox rose to celebrity status as one of the founders of American spiritualism. Her alleged ability to communicate with spirits in the first séances in America astounded the press, made her and her sisters the darlings of Broadway, inspired thousands of child imitators and fascinated the most prominent men and women of her era - among them Horace Greeley, Harriet Beecher Stowe, William Lloyd Garrison, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and William James. That life took her on a surprising series of twists and turns, culminating with her startling confession at the New York Academy of Music in 1888.
New York's Water Supply System: A Study in the Monumental
April 12, 2005
NYC's water system is a study in the monumental. Physical monuments like The High Bridge, carrying the Old Croton Aqueduct across the Harlem River, survive as reminders of the visionaries who conceived and constructed this lifeline to the city's growing population. The Third Water Tunnel, largely unseen by the general public and still being burrowed beneath city streets, represents a monumental feat of technology, engineering and construction. This forum celebrates the 100th anniversary of NYC's modern system. Co-sponsored by the High Bridge Coalition, panelists will examine historic and contemporary aspects of the water supply infrastructure and its impact on our great city. Moderator: Gerard Koeppel, author, Water for Gotham. Panelists: Joel A. Miele Sr., P.E., Former Commissioner, NYC Department of Environmental Protection, Diane Galusha, author, Liquid Assets, Robert Kornfeld, Jr., AIA, Vice President, Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct, Representative from NYC Department of Transportation, Bridge Division, Representative from Local 147 Tunnel Workers Union. Watch here.
Every Man a Speculator: A History of Wall Street
March 2, 2005
Steve Fraser will discuss his new book. Wall Street's famously volatile and unpredictable nature has left its mark on our political and business affairs, our religious life and our popular entertainment, our ideals of masculinity, and our dreams of freedom. The Street is a part of the American skyline and runs through the heart of the American imagination. Fraser is the author of Labor Will Rule: Sidney Hillman and the Rise of American Labor, and co-editor of The Rise and Fall of the New Deal Order. His writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The American Prospect, Raritan, and Dissent.
The New Left Revisited in New York
February 3, 2005
Paul Buhle (Brown University), John McMillian (Harvard), and Jeremy Varon (Drew University) will speak about their recent book, and the ways in which the movements of the 1960s, their origins and consequences, have been re-evaluated by new and mostly young scholars during the last decade. Special emphasis will be placed upon the localization of the scholarly examination, to the cultural roots that precede "political" manifestations, to the subtle break with Liberal views and practices of the Cold War era, and the rapidity of the crisis that broke over the fragile New Left.
The Moving Deuce: Films on Times Square
December 15, 2004
Digging beneath the gold-digger Hollywood history of Times Square, this evening of short films roams around the Deuce, starting with a 1905 pan from the then unfinished Times Square Tower. Notable filmmakers include Rudy Burckhardt, Charles Ahearn, The Municipal Art Society and Edison Films. The assortment of cinematic visions constitutes a national template of the mixed-up, hybrid American culture that brewed for a hundred years in the burning heart of urban New York.
100 Years of the New York Subway: A Look Back and A Look to the Future
November 10, 2004
This forum will examine the New York City subway. Experts will put the subway in historical perspective, bring the story of the subway up to date and take a look at what might happen to it in the future. Speakers will include Richard Ravitch, Ravitch, Rice and Company; subway author Robert W. Snyder, Rutgers University at Newark; transportation consultant Jeffrey Zupan; and others. A panel that will include Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers' Campaign will question the speakers. Watch here.
The 1964/65 New York World's Fair: Fortieth Anniversary
November 4, 2004
A screening of the documentary Peace through Understanding: The 1964/65 New York World's Fair by Terri Marlowe and Curtis Cates of BBQ Productions with guest speaker historian Marc H. Miller. The film interweaves recollections of numerous participants with archival footage, photos and period music for a behind-the-scenes and historical account of the creation and running of the 1964/65 World's Fair, against the turbulent backdrop of the civil rights movement, the assassination of JFK, the space race and more.
October 19, 2004
A book talk and signing with Evelyn Gonzalez, Associate Professor of History at William Paterson University. Home to the Yankees, the Bronx Zoo, and the Grand Concourse, the Bronx was at one time a haven for upwardly mobile second-generation immigrants. During the 1960s and 1970s, it became a national symbol of urban deterioration. In this revealing history, Evelyn Gonzalez describes how the once-infamous borough has undergone one of the most successful and inspiring revivals in American history.
New York Underground
October 4, 2004
Come see what is going down in New York as we descend into its underbelly to explore the city from the bottom up. Julia Solis, Director of Dark Passages and Ars Subterranea, will present a slideshow of her discoveries while a panel of authors helps navigate our course through these subterranean worlds: Robert Sullivan, author of Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants; Chris Neville, lecturer for Place Matters on the Marble Cemetery; Anne-Marie Cantwell and Diana diZerega Wall, authors of Unearthing Gotham: The Archaeology of New York City.
The East Village on Film
September 29, 2004
An evening of films about the history of the East Village with Roland Legiardi-Laura, Chairman, Board of Directors, Nuyorican Poets Cafe and founder of the Fifth Night Screenplay Reading and Short Film series. What happens when the local community garden is bulldozed and luxury condominiums rise in its place? Legiardi-Laura's poses in Duh-Huh (2003), which asks "What is the East Village and why should we care?" Yael Bitton's documentary Not For Sale (2002) similarly examines the metamorphosis of East 7th Street from the home of immigrant working-class to that of well-heeled urban professionals. Curated by Matthew Seig and Leonard Quart, Professor Emeritus, College of Staten Island, and Contributing Editor of Cineaste.
Broadway Boogie Woogie: Damon Runyon and the Making of New York City Culture
May 20, 2004
Daniel R. Schwartz looks at NYC between the World Wars — with an emphasis on the city's colorful nightlife in this book. He examines the city through the lens of Damon Runyon's career, from sports writer, daily columnist, trial reporter, and Hollywood figure to the author of the still widely read short stories that were the source of the Broadway hit Guys and Dolls.
Waterfront: A Journey Around Manhattan
May 4, 2004
Fusing history, lore, and on-site adventures, essayist and author Phillip Lopate takes us on an excursion around Manhattan’s shoreline. Waterfront is a look at NYC’s landscape and history, and an irresistible invitation to meander along its outermost edges.
The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan, the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America
April 22, 2004
The history of the Dutch in America is often boiled down to a few sentences about Peter Stuyvesant and the early colony we learn about in history class, almost entirely Anglo-centric. Russell Shorto's groundbreaking book, based on a rich treasure trove of documents in the state library at Albany, reveals the profound imprint of the Dutch on the United States, one that may forever change our understanding of the birth of this country.
Brooklyn Works: 400 Years of Making a Living in Brooklyn
March 24, 2004
A program in celebration of the opening of the new permanent exhibit at the Brooklyn Historical Society. Craig Wilder will talk about the history of the borough's working class — their industries, the challenges they faced, and how employment shaped their daily lives. Conversation follows with several of the modern Brooklynites featured in the exhibit. Watch here.
Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin: A Film Screening
January 18, 2004
During his sixty-year career as an activist and organizer, Bayard Rustin formulated many of the strategies that propelled the American civil rights movement, attracting the attention of both Martin Luther King, Jr. and the FBI. His open homosexuality forced him to remain in the background, a "brother outsider." This film, directed by Nancy Kates and Bennett Singer and released in 2003, combines rare archival footage, some never broadcasted in this country, and provocative interviews that illuminate the life and work of a forgotten agent of social change. A discussion follows with Singer and Walter Naegle, Director of the Bayard Rustin Fund.
Sweatshop, USA: The American Sweatshop in Historical and Global Perspective
December 15, 2003
High profile scandals — from Kathy Lee to Nike — have brought the shocking and substandard conditions of factories to light and made Americans more aware of the relationship between their consumption and foreign labor. This panel discussion on a forthcoming book of the same title explores earlier national debates over the sweatshop and argues that efforts to control and eradicate sweatshops have always been, and remain, national and global. Participants include Eileen Boris (UC Santa Barbara), Richard Greenwald (US Merchant Marine Academy), Liza Featherstone (author, Students Against Sweatshops), Manny Ness (Brooklyn College), Harry Rubinstein (Smithsonian), Ken Wolensky (Pennsylvania Historical Society), Jennifer Guglielmo (Smith College), Dan Bender (University of Waterloo).
Shopping in New York City
November 10, 2003
Book talk and signing for Sharon Zukin's new book, Point of Purchase: How Shopping Changed American Culture, which examines New York City, the shopping capital of the world, and looks at the rise and fall of B. Altman as well as other superstores in the city. Zukin also examines how New York magazine and Zagat's have shaped contemporary consumer culture. Zukin is Professor of Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center.
Gotham in the Second World War
October 15, 2003
This forum presents a sneak preview of the second installment of Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898. Mike Wallace will discuss the city's role in prosecuting the war, and explore the way its citizens experienced life on the urban home front.
7th Street: A Film Screening
September 23, 2003
This feature documentary, directed by Josh Pais, was shot over a ten-year period in NYC's East Village, and follows the transformation of Alphabet City from 1992 to 2002. Pais captures the amazing changes wrought during the second half of the 20th century — the counter-culture of the 1960's, the influx of drugs, and the onslaught of gentrification. A discussion will follow the film between Josh Pais and Suzanne Wasserman, Associate Director of the Gotham Center. Pais is an actor who has appeared in many movies including: "Music of the Heart," "A Civil Action," "A Beautiful Mind," and "The Phone Booth." He has appeared on television in shows such as "Law and Order" and "Sex in the City." Wasserman is an historian whose work has focused on the history of the Lower East Side. She also just completed her first film, "Thunder in Guyana."
To Stand and Fight: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Postwar New York City
June 11, 2003
The story of the civil rights movement typically begins with the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955 and culminates with the 1965 voting rights struggle in Selma. But as Martha Biondi shows, a grassroots struggle for racial equality in the urban North began a full ten years before the rise of the movement in the South. This story is an essential first chapter, not only to the southern movement that followed, but to the riots that erupted in northern and western cities just as the civil rights movement was achieving major victories. To Stand and Fight demonstrates how black New Yorkers launched the modern civil rights struggle and left a rich legacy. Biondi is Assistant Professor of African-American Studies and History at Northwestern University.
Capital City: New York City and the Men Behind America's Rise to Economic Dominance, 1860-1900
May 22, 2003
Thomas Kessner discusses his new book, which investigates the central role played by New York's investors in transforming the American economy in the years following the Civil War. It describes how Gotham's speculative class, led by Jay Gould, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan, helped develop the new corporate economy that catapulted the nation to international economic dominance by the end of the nineteenth century.
Recent Historical Scholarship on Harlem
April 22, 2003
Please join us for a discussion of recent scholarship on Harlem, with scholars Durahn Taylor, author of Harlem Learns the Game: Electoral Politics and Community Strategy in the FDR Era, Rebecca E. Welch, author of New York Intellectuals: The Black Left and the Cold War, 1950-1965, and Beverly Watkins, author of Fantasy, Decay, Abandonment, Defeat and Disease: Community Disintegration in Central Harlem, 1960-1990.
The Civil War in New York City, From Print to Pixels
March 26, 2003
New York was the hub of the northern war effort during the Civil War and also a city at war with itself. Defined and divided by wealth and poverty, privilege and sacrifice, patriotism and dissent, abolitionism and racism, it was a social and political powder keg that finally exploded in the draft riots of July 1863. Novelist Kevin Baker, historian Jeanie Attie, and media producer Andrea Ades Vasquez will discuss the ways this story has been told and interpreted in recent fiction, scholarship, and new media.
The Settlement House Movement in New York City from Lillian Wald to Now
December 5, 2002
This forum will examine the past, present and future of the settlement house movement in NYC. Historians and settlement workers will talk about the emergence of the movement during the Progressive Era, the role of the settlement during historical cycles of conservatism and, more recently, the difficulties of sustaining the core practices of collaboration, community building and social action in our contemporary conservative climate. Participants include Janice MacGuire, Director of the Hudson Guild; Judith Trolander (U-Minnesota, Duluth); Robert Fisher (U-Conn); Michael B. Fabricant (Hunter College); Daniel Kronenfeld, Executive Director of the Henry Street Settlement; Nancy Waxstein, Director of the United Neighborhood Houses.
New York City and the New Deal
November 22, 2002
This day-long conference on the New Deal addresses its rollbacks and revivals in the second half of the twentieth century, and its potential as a model for the future. It consists of four sessions. "The Old New Deal" looks at what the New Deal accomplished in NYC and how. "New Deal Downsides" examines its limitations, particularly in regard to race and gender. "The Slow Pacing of the New Deal" explores attacks on and defenses of New Deal programs from the late 1940s to the 1990s. "The New New Deal" speculates on the degree to which a re-crafted New Deal could serve as a model for a liberal comeback.
Participants include Thomas Kessner, author, Fiorello H. LaGuardia and the Making of Modern New York; Frances Fox Piven, author, Why Americans Still Don't Vote; Alan Brinkley, author, The End of Reform: New Deal Liberalism in Recession and War; Joshua B. Freeman, author, Working Class New York: Life and Labor Since World War II; John Mollenkopf, author, Rethinking the Urban Agenda: Reinvigorating the Liberal Tradition in New York City and Urban America; and others.
The Future of New York City
September 9, 2002
Mike Wallace offers some reflections on the swirl of post-September 11 proposals for rebuilding New York and some concrete suggestions — rooted in his take on the city's history — for ways it might push ahead into the twenty-first century. Based on his forthcoming book, A New Deal for New York City.
Celluloid Skyline: New York and The Movies
April 3, 2002
James Sanders will discuss his recent publication, Celluloid Skyline: New York and the Movies. His journey through "movie New York," the extraordinary dream city created in Hollywood studios and on the streets of the city itself, will be accompanied by film clips. Book signing to follow.
Jacob Riis' New York
May 7, 2002
Historians Bonnie Yochelson and Daniel Czitrom discuss Jacob Riis' photographs, his influences, and his larger relationship to the New York City. Discussion will be supplemented with slides.
Fiction and the City
February 26, 2002
Writers Kevin Baker, Pete Hamill, Peter Quinn, Beverly Swerling, Meredith Tax, Louis Auchincloss and others (to be announced) will discuss the role of NYC history in their works of fiction.
The Slocum Burns!
February 14, 2002
In 1904, an excursion boat, the General Slocum, caught fire on the East River. 1100 people, mostly immigrant women and children perished, in the greatest loss of life in NYC before the World Trade Center disaster. The U.S. premiere of Christian Baudissin's 1999 documentary film The Slocum Burns! is followed by a discussion with historian Ed O'Donnell.
The History and Future of Heroin in New York City
June 7, 2001
As early as the 1920s, the overwhelming majority of U.S. heroin addicts lived in the New York City area, and the city had emerged as the center of the country's drug trade. How did this happen? How have New Yorkers dealt with the big H since then, and where does the deadly relationship go from here? Claude Brown, author of Manchild in the Promised Land. Stanley Crouch, critic and author of Always in Pursuit: Fresh American Perspectives. Ric Curtis, Director, Heroin in the 21st Century Project, Anthropology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY. Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director, Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation. Robert Newman, President and CEO, Continuum Health Partners. Eric Schneider, University of Pennsylvania and author of The Golden Spike: Heroin in the Postwar City (in progress).
New York City's Housing Crisis: Has it Always Been Here? Will it Ever Go Away?
May 24, 2001
Have New Yorkers always found decent and affordable housing to be in short supply? If so, why? And what's the prognosis for a different future? These are the questions explored by tonight's panel, which includes Yolanda Garcia, Executive Director, Nos Quedamos; Irene Baldwin, Executive Director, Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development; Peter Marcuse and Richard Plunz, Professors of Urban Planning at Columbia; Peter Salins, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, SUNY; Douglass Turetsky, Director of Policy, Analysis and Advocacy at United Neighborhood Houses and former editor of City Limits; and Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the NYC Partnership and Chamber of Commerce.
Why Did the Computer Revolution Take Place in Silicon Valley, Not Silicon Alley? And What Will Be the Relation Between the Two in the Future?
May 10, 2001
Having been a crucial crucible for communications technologies since the early nineteenth century — telegraph, movies, radio, TV — we seem to have dropped the ball on computers? How come? And how will the two coasts fare in the coming internet era? Our panel explores: Jason Chervokis, Primedia, co-founder @NY; Dan Dubno, producer and technologist, CBS News; Stuart W. Leslie, Johns Hopkins professor and author of Learning from Silicon Valley (forthcoming); Alan Meckler, Chairman and CEO, Internet.com Corporation; and Mitchell Moss, Director, Taub Urban Research Center, NYU.
The History of Jazz in NYC
April 26, 2001
Jazz was not a native growth of NYC, but the transplant sure flourished here. Why? How did the metropolis shape the music, and vice versa? Participants in Ken Burns' marathon docuhistory, Jazz will tackle this question tonight: Gary Giddins,Village Voice Staff Writer and author of Visions of Jazz: The First Century; Margo Jefferson, New York Timesjournalist; Robin D. G. Kelley, Professor of History, NYU; Dan Morgenstern, Director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers; Albert Murray, author of Trading Twelves: The Selected Letters of Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray; and Geoff Ward, co-author with Burns, Jazz: A History of America's Music. Watch here.
History and Prospects of the Maritime Port
April 10, 2001
From the Dutch days to WWII, NYC's Port was crucial to its existence. Then, the boats decamped to Jersey. Why? Will some - should some - come back? How crucial will harbor developments be to the region's future? Panelists: Kent Barwick, President, Municipal Art Society; Jameson Doig, Chair, Department of Politics, Princeton, and author of Empire on the Hudson: Entrepreneurial Vision and Political Power at the Port of New York Authority (forthcoming); Steve H. Jaffe, Curator, South Street Seaport; Rep. Jerrold L. Nadler, Member of Congress, 8th District; Constantine Sidamon-Eristoff, Attorney, Lacher & Lovell‑Taylor; James T.B. Tripp, General Counsel, Environmental Defense Fund; and Chris Ward, Chief of Planning, Port Authority of NY and NJ. Watch here.
Sweatshops Then, Sweatshops Now
March 15, 2001
Have things changed since the bad old days? Yes and no. Experts and activists compare conditions in the New York garment trades, past and present. Speakers include Amy Hall, Manager of Social Accountability, Eileen Fisher, Inc.; Trinh Duong, Board Member, Chinese Staff and Workers Association; Assemblyman Felix. W. Ortiz, 51st District, author of Behind Closed Doors: A Look into the Underground Sweatshop Industry; Edgar Romney, Executive VP of UNITE; Daniel Soyer, Fordham University, author of Jewish Tenement Sweatshops; and Carmen Whalen, Puerto Rican and Hispanic Caribbean Studies Dept., Rutgers, author of Latinas and Latinos in NYC's Garment Industry. Watch here.
'Hood History: The South Bronx, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and East New York in Historical Perspective
January 9, 2001
Some of the most exciting new scholarship on NYC investigates specific neighborhoods in fine-grained detail, and many of the areas under the magnifying glass are not in Manhattan. For all their particularity, the recent studies probe general concerns of interest to all city dwellers — issues of racial transformation, new immigrant arrival, political relations between local communities and government. On this panel, scholars Craig Wilder, Wendell Pritchett and Evelyn Gonzalez look at three neighborhoods — Bedford-Stuyvesant, East New York, South Bronx — and consider their history, contrasts and commonalities. Watch here.
From Ellis Island to JFK: New York's Two Great Waves of Immigration
December 12, 2000
The Graduate Center's Nancy Foner discusses her new book, which compares today's new immigrants with those of a hundred years ago, reassessing the myths that have grown up around the earlier Jewish and Italian waves that color how today's Asian, Latin American, and Caribbean arrivals are seen. Two panelists will explore related questions of education, work, residential patterns, gender, race, and transnationalism: Peter Kwong, Hunter College, and Silvio Torres-Saillant, Interim Director of the Dominican Studies Institute at CUNY.
From the Third Degree to Abner Louima: A History of Police Violence in New York City Since the 1880's
November 14, 2000
The term "police brutality" is seriously problematic, in that it implicitly suggests violent confrontations between officers and civilians stems from characterological or psychological traits of the men and women in blue. This evening's discussion attempted to shift the focus, and analyze the last hundred plus years of conflict in terms of what the dominant forces of larger cultural, social, economic and political order have called upon police to do. Historians and experts guided us from the late nineteenth century to the present.
Why Hasn't More Great Architecture Been Built in New York City in the Last 50 Years, and What Can Be Done About It?
October 26, 2000
Herbert Muschamp, architectural critic at The New York Times, has been vigorously protesting the paucity of brilliant buildings in recent years, a problem that arguably dates back decades. Muschamp laid out his analysis and proposals for change, and an all-star lineup spoke to the issues.
Sex and the City: An Illustrated Talk about the History of Sex in the Big Apple
October 12, 2000
New York's getting a hot new museum — one devoted entirely to issues of sexuality over time. Director Alison Maddex looks at how and why the new Museum of Sex intends to display erotic artifacts. Her talk, accompanied by slides, lays out the current state of the Museum's opening exhibit. CUNY Professor Carol Groneman, author of Nymphomania, comments on the Museum's evolving direction, and Richard Rabinowitz reflects on the nascent institution from his twenty-five years of experience in exhibit design.
From Bomba to Hip-Hop: A History of Latino Music in New York City Since the 1920s
September 28, 2000
Juan Flores, author of From Bomba to Hip Hop, and musicologist Rene Lopez team up with Nelson Gonzalez and the band Son Mundano in alternate takes of talking and playing. The group will analyze the changes in Latino music wrought by successive waves of immigrants, developments in the music industry, and larger transformations in NYC. Watch here.
Nueva York: Historical Reflections on Puerto Ricans in New York City from 1945 to the Present
September 22, 2000
This all-day conference will provide a critical overview of the historical, political and cultural development of New York's Puerto Rican community. Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer concludes with reflections on the current and future status of the community.
The Rise and Fall of Social Democracy in New York City
June 6, 2000
Joshua Freeman, Queens College and The Graduate Center, discusses his new book, Working-Class New York: Life and Labor Since World War II.
William Randolph Hearst: The New York Years
June 6, 2000
David Nasaw, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. Professor of History at The Graduate Center, CUNY, reads from his new book, The Chief, a biography of the publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst.
The Lindsay Mayoralty: An Assessment
May 17, 2000
A conversation with Vincent Cannato, author, John Lindsay's New York and the Crisis of Liberalism; and Steve Isenberg, Lindsay's Chief-of-Staff; Richard Aurelio, Lindsay's Deputy Mayor; and Fred Siegel, author of The Future Once Happened Here: New York, D.C., L.A., and the Fate of America's Big Cities.